Seafood Inspired Art and Craft

Eugène Delacroix, Still Life with Lobster and trophies of hunting and fishing (1826–1827), Louvre
The abundance and variety of life in the rivers and the oceans has caught the imagination of artists and influenced their work through the ages. From fish pendants to octopus vases, here are some artefacts from across the world that were inspired by seafood.
1. Octopus Vases
Pottery was a flourishing art in Mycenae (Ancient Greece). Sometime between 14th and 13th century B.C.E., the Mycenaeans started to decorate their pots with representations of octopus. A trend that continued later on with their next generation of potters getting more creative with the octopus designs.
Mycenaean Vase, Prosymna, Argos, grave 2, 15 cent B.C.E.
Mycenaean terracotta vase, ca. 1200–1100 B.C.E., © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
2. Fish China
Chinese potters have been creating beautiful ceramics since ages. Amongst other popular designs painted on their porcelain, like dragons and flowers, they also featured fish. The Ming Dynasty, which is known for having promoted the production of ceramics in China during their reign, seemed to favour the use of fish designs on their plates, vases and pots.
Plate with Design of Two Fish from Longquan Kiln: Singapore International Auction Pte Ltd, 3109 Ming Dynasty
Goldfish Vase from the Jiajing period (1521–67) of the Ming dynasty; Porcelain; Paris, Musée Guimet 261101
3. Seafood Plates
What’s special about these plates from the 4th century B.C.E. is that not only are they are decorated with seafood motifs but are also supposed to have been created specifically for eating seafood. The plates have a cavity at the centre for special sauces and oils to dip the seafood in. These fish plates are expected to be from South Italy.
Scorpion Fish Painter, piatti da pesce a figure rosse, 380-75 B.C.E.
Three sea-perch and three limpets, Apulian red-figured fish plate, ca. 340–320 B.C.E., British Museum
Piatto da pesce a figure rosse, 380-75 B.C.E.
4. Aquatic Animals Wall Paintings
Ancient Egyptians are well known for decorating their tombs with wall paintings and carvings, vases, jewellery, and statues. In one of the paintings on the wall in The Tomb of Nebamun (an Egyptian official), c 1350 B.C.E., there’s a beautiful pond with trees on all the sides and fish and ducks swimming in it.
Pond in a garden. Fragment from the Tomb of Nebamun, 1400 B.C.E.
5. Fish Amulets
Ancient Egyptians featured marine life in their art as seafood formed an important part of their diet and life. The Nile tilapia, catfish and other species of fish found in their waters were popular designs for their jewellery pieces made with gold, precious and semiprecious stones.
Egyptian – Tilapia Fish, created: between 1976 and 1783 B.C.E. (Middle Kingdom), Walters Art Museum
Egypt, Between circa 1450 and circa 1300 B.C.E. (New Kingdom), Walters Art Museum.
6. Sea Creatures Mosaic
Just like the Greek, Egyptian, and other ancient civilisations, the Romans too used marine life as a theme for their works of art. A popular medium of art used by the Roman Empire was mosaics. Some of these beautiful mosaics have fish and other sea creatures as their subject-matter.
Roman mosaic from in house VIII.2.16 in Pompeii[1]. Museo Archeologico Nazionale (Naples), inv. nr. 120177
Sea creatures mosaic from Pompeii; National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy
7.  Crab Ceramic Vessel
The Moche civilisation (northern Peru) modelled clay to style and decorate their pots and vessels. They created figures and forms on their red and white/cream painted ceramics. Plants, animals, human, and seafood like crabs and fish were commonly sculpted on these vessels. 
Ceramic Moche stirrup spout vessel representing a crustacean.
Seafood motifs are visible in the art of different civilisations since prehistoric times. Much has changed since those times but our love for seafood has remained the same (if not grown stronger) and we continue to be inspired by it. Sea creatures feature in our stories, poems, paintings, movies and all other forms of art as they are an intrinsic part of our life since time immemorial.
If you have come across some interesting pieces of seafood art then do share them with us. We speak for our fellow seafoodies, when we say that we are always looking for some seafood inspiration!
– The Fishvish Team

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